Monthly Archives: July 2011

Maxing Out my PC Financial Mastercard Rant

I know that most PF bloggers love PC Financial, and even though I am a huge fan of their no fee accounts and credit cards, I found myself in a heated discussion with them just a few weeks ago regarding some of their policies/practices.

Overlimit Fee $20

If you go over your credit limit, they charge you $20.

They don’t give you a separate notification of this, they just add it to your list of transactions.  Of course, us PF bloggers always check our statements and would find a charge like this.

I called and disputed this.

No Credit Limit Cap

PC Financial Mastercard will not let you put a hard cap on your credit.

I requested they could put a hard cap on my limit as I did not want to go over it, and wanted to be notified when my cap has been reached.  The representative I spoke with tried to do it and could not.

Isn’t it funny how they don’t allow you to put a hard cap on your credit limit, and yet they allow you to go over and simply charge you a $20 fee for going over?

2-3 Business Days to Process Payments

Usually, I don’t max out my credit card, but this was a first (I booked flights for my entire family).  I transferred the money from my checking account right away so that I would have more credit to book subsequent hotels, etc., Unfortunately, my payment had not been processed yet and I would have to wait 2-3 business days.

It didn’t matter that the money had already left my checking account, PC could not process my payment faster.  I asked if I could show them proof to move the process along, but no.

Credit Increase

I really wanted needed to use my credit card to book subsequent rental cars, hotels, etc., so I asked if PC could increase my credit limit.  I didn’t need a big increase, I just need another $1,000 so I pay for other things while they were taking their sweet time processing my payment.

PC could not increase my credit limit since I had gone over my credit limit and my account was now locked.  The only way to increase my credit limit was to allow them to run a credit check, first.

No. Way.

I told them that they could either process my payment faster or give me my credit increase that I was already pre-approved for, but I did not authorize them to run a credit check.

Conclusion

After speaking with three different representatives, I was able to get my Credit Limit Fee waived, as a courtesy (since I was not aware of it).  PC agreed to credit it back to me the following month – however, I did have to call back to remind them.  I wish they did it without me having to call, again.

There was nothing that I could do but wait for my payment to be processed. Boo. After all my payments went though, I called PC back to increase my credit limit, which they did.

Generally, I am happy with my PC Financial Mastercard, but there are bumps in the road, and this was certainly one of those times.  So, just be careful about reaching or surpassing your credit limit because you will be penalized with a fee of $20!

Has anyone else had problems with PC Financial? 

Cheers,

P.S. Are you following me on Twitter @fab_frugirl?

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Recent Financial Tweaks and my Orange Key!

(Photo source)

I’ve been a little quiet on the blogsophere, but fear not, I have not fallen off the personal finance bandwagon.  I am tracking my spending  very diligently, and have been researching and finding “new” ways to save money.

A huge thanks goes out to all those wonderful PF blogs and my readers that keep inspiring me to keep trucking along my journey to reach financial freedom.  Thank you so much!

These are some recent financial tweaks that I’ve made.  They may be small changes, but I wanted to share them in case someone finds this information useful.

Negotiating my Cell Phone Bill with Rogers

If you know me, I’m not the best negotiator out there, but I try my best!

I started my 3-year contract with Rogers fresh out of school.  I got a $0 Nokia phone, and it has served me well ever since.  I have not hopped on the smart phone bandwagon, yet 😉

My plan for the duration of the contract was the Student Plan (includes My10, and 6pm evenings) with 30 added text messages for a total of $40.34/month including tax.   I did not have call display or voice mail.  It wasn’t outrageous, but it wasn’t great.

It wasn’t until recently that I realized I could have negotiated for a better price.  I thought that I needed to wait until my contract expired. Even after my awful experience with Rogers, I decided to stick with them.

I did some research on RedFlagDeal Forum and checked out Young and Thrifty’s step by step guide to negotiating a better cell phone plan.  Both are great resources and I strongly recommend you check them out!

In the end, I ended with this plan for $30.90 including taxes:

  • 200 anytime minutes
  • unlimited evenings and weekends
  • early evenings starting at 6pm (usually it’s 9pm… ugh)
  • caller display
  • 100 text messages (outgoing)
  • 3 way calling, call forwarding

I had to renew for a 12-month contract, which I was fine with.  My phone still works great, and I expect it will last another year.  I will do a separate post of how I negotiated with Rogers – is there any interest in that?

In total I save at least $120/year.  Not bad for a few minutes of negotiating by a newbie, right?

Upgrading to ING Thrive, Downgrading TD

I’m probably one of the last PF bloggers to jump on the bandwagon, but I just opened up a Thrive checking account with ING Direct.  I got $100 just for signing up (and adding my payroll direct deposit).

They have extended their deadline to August 31, 2011.  At that time, you must have your payroll deposited (that’s when you get the $100 in your account).

I was hesitant on opening another account, but I already had all my savings with ING (love them!).  My current main checking account was with TD Canada Trust – and you all know how I feel about them.

I downgraded my TD checking account to a Value Basic Banking (to withdraw cash only) and will use Thrive for all my daily banking needs.  I do most of my banking online, and I haven’t had to speak to a bank teller in ages (not to mention I get charged $1 every time I get something done by a teller at TD).

I’m really excited about my Thrive account because I get all the following perks:

  • $100 FREE after my first pay roll deposit
  • First 50 checks FREE
  • ATM card
  • No minimum balance
  • No fee’s
  • Unlimited transactions
  • Free E-mail money transfers
  • Great customer service
  • Free “Void” checks to be printed (what a nifty idea, I hate wasting checks that way!)

I’ve never had a problem with ING’s customer service.  That’s not to say they are perfect, but they are always there to take my phone call and fix my problem.   They also don’t hit me with ridiculous fee’s (I transferred money from my ING TFSA for free – TD charges $100 – $120).

The only down side of Thrive is the lack of ABM locations.  A quick search on their ABM Locator shows that there are only 15 locations in my City.  It doesn’t compare to the convenience of Green machines located at almost every street corner, which is why I kept my TD account.

In total, I earned $100 and saved an additional $35 (that’s how much 50 checks from TD costs).  Not too bad for making a few phone calls, eh?

If you would like to open an ING Thrive account, you can also use my referral.

My orange key: 32943516S1

You get an additional $25 and I get $25, too!

What financial or fun stuff have you been up to this summer?

Cheers,

P.S. Are you following me on Twitter @fab_frugirl?

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Link Love

I’m still adjusting to life after vacation, and I wanted to put up a quicky list before I pack for the cottage.  Here are some of my favourite posts this week 🙂  Enjoy and have a wonderful weekend!

Personal Finance

  • Frugal Fatigue.  Young and Thrifty talks about some things she does with her significant other to avoid frugal fatigue.
  • $100 groceries for a month.  Krystal shares what she bought on her new grocery monthly budget.  As you know, I also have a $100 monthly grocery budget, and usually it’s plenty.
  • Fair weather locavore.  Cassie talks about being a locavore and how she believes in supporting local small scale farmers.

Fashion

  • Great finds from H&M.  Extra Petite shares some great summer looks from H&M.   If I wasn’t on my shopping ban, I would totally get that dress!
  • Keep it or Toss it?  GlitterGeek shares her quickie review on a slew of summer skin care products.

Life

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Vacation Preview: The Maritimes (East Coast Canada )

Thank you for all your wonderful comments on my Frugal Parents “Pilot” post!  My parents are a huge inspiration to my desire to achieve financial freedom, and I love to share my stories.  It also serves as a good reminder to myself when I start to slip up!

I’ve been a little quiet around the blogosphere the past little while.  That’s because BF and I are on vacation!

We are spending almost 2 weeks on the beautiful east coast of Canada.  We’ve been to Halifax, Nova Scotia and took a road trip to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia so far.  We are planning to head to Prince Edward Island soon.

I’m a huge fan of Anne of Green Gables!  And you can imagine me squealing like a baby girl – “Anne was here!  Anne and Gilbert went to school here.  They kissed on this bridge!”  Yea, I’m crazy like that 🙂

BF and I have been diligently tracking our travel spending and I will be excited to share that with you when I come back.  And the pretty pictures, of course!

I hope everyone is having a great summer (or winter for those of us on the other side of the equator)!

I leave you with a picture of their Royal Highnesses on their recent trip out to the beautiful island (and after doing some awesome dragon boat racing!).

P.S. I’ve recently joined twitter, and haven’t figured out the widget to link my twitter account with my blog (yet).  If you’d like to follow me, you can find me @fab_frugirl.

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Frugal Parents: Growing up in Fab Frugirl’s Family

(Photo source)

I mentioned before that I grew up poor.  My parents immigrated from Southeast Asia to escape war torn countries  and to give their future children a better life.  Life was not easy for my parents, and I think all too often I take for granted things that my parents have sacrificed and worked very hard to achieve.

Background

My father has worked in various manual intensive jobs most of his life.  My mother stayed at home with my sisters and I, ran a home-daycare, and returned to the work force (also doing manual intensive jobs), when I was in grade 7.

Now that I am on my own, I can’t imagine how much my parents worked to stretch their dollars and pennies, but my sisters and I were always taken care of.  We always had healthy home-cooked meals, warm clothes and shoes, glasses, and we even got to go on school day trips.

Low Income, High-ish Networth

According to the data in Money Sense’s Guide to Retiring Wealthy (Ch. 8, p.125), my parents’ household income has always ranged between the poorest 20% and lower-middle 20% (annual gross income of $30,000 to $56,000).  But their current net worth is in the upper-middle 20% compared to other Canadians ($358,000 to $687,000).

I was completely blown away with a huge sense of pride and deeply humbled by my parents’ accomplishments.  I always knew that my parents were frugal and saved for the future, but I never had a measuring stick, so to speak.  I showed my dad, beaming, but I think he already knew.

The Secret

There is no secret to my parents’ success?

Like most immigrants, they have worked very hard their entire lives. They lived a simple life and they saved for a rainy day.  Their recipe may not be for everyone, but I try to apply my parents’ wisdom and frugality to my daily life.

I will share some of their frugal tips (and stories) in my “Frugal Parents” posts.  Some of them are simple and applicable, others are hilarious and crazy.  I hope you enjoy them as much I enjoy thinking back 🙂

Living Simply

My dad has a poster in our family room that had two Chinese characters, “to know” and “enough” (sorry, couldn’t find the Chinese characters).  Pretty self explanatory and simply, but also very powerful.

It’s easy to say, but it takes dedication to achieve.  It’s dedication that my parents have shown through how they live.  My parents drive a simple car (to the ground), rarely eat out, don’t go away on vacation (or at all), no brand name clothes, no movies, no buying coffee.  You get it.

My dad would always remind my sisters and I, that a greedy person can never be satisfied, no matter how much money or nice things they have; but a poor person can be satisfied because he does not long or lust after superficial things.  Although, my dad’s wise words didn’t really help when I couldn’t have the nice sneakers in high school, it’s something that I often think back and reflect on, now.

Saving for a Rainy Day

My dad worked as a book keeper in Hong Kong, and home, he is in charge of tracking my family’s expenses.  My dad didn’t use anything fancy, just a notebook to log purchases.  But he was really diligent about tracking every penny.  In fact, my dad showed me his spending for May 1999, and could tell me how much he spent that month on diapers!

Growing up, my dad’s pay cheque usually went to paying bills, including mortgage, utilities, groceries, insurance, car payments (if any), and any other day to day spending.  My mom’s pay cheque from her home daycare went towards saving.  From my parents’ combined savings, they were able to cover emergencies, such as, unexpected health care, a few semesters of tuition, and upgrade to a bigger house.

Frugal Parents “Series”

I thought it would be a neat idea to share random tips and stories about my parents’ frugality.  I met up with the lovely and talented FB of Fabulously Broke in the City and we had such a great time swapping stories, I thought my readers might also find them interesting (and sometimes, amusing).

I’ve also had a reader request to share some frugal tips that my parents have employed a while back.  I put together a mini-list of things I can think off the top of my head to start off, and I may elaborate on them later on in the series.

Growing up in my parents’ home:

  • There was no high-speed internet (up until June 2010)
  • We ate out only once a month (roughly)
  • We only had basic cable
  • We shared a family cell phone whenever someone went out
  • My dad has never bought a cup of coffee
  • My dad took us to the library every other week
  • My dad cut my sisters and my hair in the standard Asian bowl cut
  • My dad once used rope to keep our car together (long story)
  • My mom cooks almost everything from scratch (yummy!)
  • My mom has a food index “Rolodex” in her mind
  • My sisters and I wore hand-me-downs from parents’ friends’ sons (unfortunately, none had daughters)
  • My sisters and I got part-time jobs to help save for college and worked throughout college

I am really looking forward to sharing my parents’ frugal tips with my readers.  And, just because my parents are frugal, it doesn’t mean all their money saving tips work out. 😛

What are some of the frugal or different things your parents did growing up?

Cheers,

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